Friday, May 11, 2018

Refusing The Sacrament: Non-participation In The Rituals Of Our Cult-ure


One thing I have always has a problem with is rules. They annoy me. If I can see a positive reason for a rule existing, then thats negotiable, understandable, even agreeable  - but if the rule (usually instigated by some form of hierarchy) appears to be defending an entity’s greed, stupidity or ignorance, then I say fuck the rule! Even though that seems like a pretty logical and rational reaction to such non-sense, there is a particular taboo about the breaking of rules which stems from our identification with the norms and value of cult-ure, and the prescribed perspective(s) of reality.
Every day we enter agreements with power structures, through our (mis)understandings and compliance. We accept the rules and expectations of society without question or consideration. Social etiquette, attitudes and economic stability are all affected and maintained by consensus participation of the game - each of us standing under the rules of the gamemaker.  
Every culture values its traditions, which connect us to our ancestors agreements (and dis-agreements). For example, Thanksgiving, Remembrance Day and Australia Day are ritualised to celebrate a particular historical event, usually to commemorate a horrific atrocity or conquest or to emphasise a cultures ideology (usually both). It is these such traditions that have become the sacred ceremonies of contemporary cultures. And of course, every good ceremony involves a sacrament - a sacred symbolic substance that invokes the spirit of a particular entity. Christianity has the body (and blood) of christ, indigenous shamans invoke various spirits of the plant world, aboriginal Australians and Native Americans summon the ether of their ancestors. But what is western culture’s predominant sacred offering? Alcohol? Money? Consumption itself?
I began thinking about the link between cult and culture after watching The Mindscape Of Alan Moore, a brilliant documentary into the pathology behind V For Vendetta, The Watchmen, From Hell etc. In it, he proposes that all culture has to arise from cult. That all culture has requirements, based on its particular belief system and agenda, usually founded initially by a few. Through repetition, these foundations become dogma, and through usually bloody conflict, the cult fights against another cult until one side wins - then, history is re-written or modified, by the victors of such battle. A bit like newspeak in 1984, innit!
After many years growing up within both conventional culture and various sub-cultures, I have noticed that each one has its own agreements, ceremonies and sacraments. For example, mainstream western culture agrees that contemporary humans are the pinnacle of civilisation, we participate in traditional festivals such as christmas, bank holidays and sporting events, and we enthusiastically intoxicate ourselves, which of course goes hand in hand with capitalist consumption. Rave culture generally agrees that conventional society sucks and partying is in our true nature, we participate in sleep deprivation for many days, dance wildly to  repetitive beats, and relies on the sacrament of MDMA, amphetamines, alcohol (and anything else) to connect us to the the culture and each other. Although they differ in emphasis, every culture I’ve ever been part of seems to require these three conditions: agreements, ceremonies, and sacraments. Refusal, or non-participation of any of these, can make you feel disconnected, alienated or simply rejected by the said cult-ure.
After many years of non participation in mainstream society’s agreements (you must vote to entitle you to an opinion) or ceremonies (christmas, shopping, Friday night piss-ups etc),I have recently decided to take it one step further, and refuse the sacraments (alcohol, nicotine, class A's etc). By increasingly opting out of participation of the sacred rituals of convention, I feel exhilaration for reducing my dependency on a cult-ure of exploitation. But a void has emerged from its absence. 
This space that is left from removing identification with cult-ure (and its associated sacraments and rituals) has led me to many crossroads of potential. A good metaphor is that we are programmed for a particular path through life, the destination and route pre-decided. Then suddenly, by refusing the sacraments and rituals, you create a junction on this path where you realise you are alone with no map, and are being presented with many directions. At this junction arises an inevitable question: where am I going, and why?! For me, asking this question invoked a great realisation of freedom, autonomy and responsibility, and offered new paths which I now am walking, each day exercising my own choice, reflection and sovereignty.
Don’t get me wrong, removing the identification and participation in the sacred rituals of cult-ure can be frightening, confusing and alienating. It also confuses the fuck out of people (because most people think that theres only one direction, like the yellow brick road to Oz or something). But when you do, you can begin creating your own sacred myths, rituals and identifications, which give you power, strength and guidance. They give you a map. In fact, you’re drawing it as you go.
When we remove the pre-conditions placed upon us by cult-ure, we become free to make authentic decisions and take back personal control of our lives. We transcend the confines of the cult enabling us to begin to re-design our own future, without constraint or limitation. We start to live according to our own rules, whatever they become, in accordance with the larger rules of the mother organism, the Earth. Power no longer drips from the top down, it is concentric, respectful and complementary. We can then grow to be evolving, experimental and sufficient.
From the creation of new rituals, we can begin to sow seeds based upon our own realisations and consequent decisions. We're redirecting our focus and energy, away from the enforced and towards the unforced. We're learning to take power and responsibility for ourselves and our actions, enabling us to support, expand and develop ourselves and the people and things that need it the most.
In summary, by refusing the conventional agreements, ceremonies, myths and traditions of our cult-ure, we can see if for what it actually is, not what we think it is. We can see it from an honest, unbiased angle,  precisely because it doesn’t threaten our identity. We can get a true perspective of what really matters and what the fuck is going on. And we can recognise corruption and destruction, wherever it shows its ugly face (even within ourselves). We're not giving up on society, we're making a new one!

-Ryan-

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